Gijs Könings is the Assistant Project Manager for the Circular Economy at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Berlin and the organizer of “Circular Design Sprint”, an online workshop for new material use in the fashion industry. Through the Circular Design Sprint, Dutch and German innovators, creatives, and changemakers in Circular Fashion are brought together.
Registration is possible via this LINK.
The Dutch Embassy in Berlin will organise Circular Design Sprint with Ina Budde, founder of Circular.Fashion and Marte Hentschel, founder of Sqetch. Why did you decide to focus on the topic of circular fashion ? How is this topic addressed in the Netherlands?
Promoting the Circular Economy is a priority for our Embassy. Since 2016, the Netherlands has had a national CE strategy involving successful international cooperation. Within our diplomatic network (we have consulate generals in Münich and Düsseldorf) we work in four key sectors: plastics, construction, textiles and waste management.The circular fashion scene in Berlin is prominent where I realized an opportunity for our Embassy to focus its efforts on the textile sector.
Not only in Berlin, but also in the Netherlands, Circular Textiles is a current and vital topic. This week, our State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven informed our parliament on the policies to enact for the period of 2020- 2025. The main priorities are: implementing an extended producer responsibility, addressing fast fashion, stimulating innovations in circular design and increasing international cooperation in order to realise a European Strategy for textiles (according to the CE Action Plan). Together, our countries can have a significant impact to make Circular Textiles a top priority on the EU’s political agenda!
Why did you bring this event to Berlin? And why do you think circular fashion has a role there?
The momentum for change is now! The Berlin Senate for the Environment, Transport and Climate protection underlined the relevance of a Green Fashion Hub by allocating 600.000 euros in the upcoming two years. This is a testament to Berlin’s globally recognized green solutions in the textile industry, also by Dutch companies and stakeholders. Circular businesses such as Circular.Fashion, Silfir and RE-NT exhibit the level of innovation within the city of Berlin. The Circular Design Sprint is a great opportunity to match the best-practices of both Berlin and the Netherlands.
What do you think Berlin designers can learn from Dutch innovators in the area of circular fashion and vice versa?
In the Netherlands, we are strong at coordinating and connecting certain initiatives and developing innovative business models. For example, we are home to Fashion4Good, an Amsterdam-based acceleration platform for sustainable fashion startups. They do an amazing job in helping young designers forward in becoming more circular and having a bigger impact. The Dutch Circular Textile Valley and Holland Circular Hotspot are also good examples of such connecting platforms. Thereby, the Dutch are known for their innovative new business models. On the other hand, I think Berlin designers have a good sense of innovation to close the loop and use new materials. They work in a large city (five times that of Amsterdam) which warrants opportunity to scale ideas and collaborate with established, larger brands involved in CE such as Zalando and Hugo Boss.
What are the plans to intensify the collaboration for circular textiles between both countries?
The plan is to connect Berlin- and Netherland-based innovators in an online multi-stakeholder workshop on May 27th. Teams will be as mixed as possible, in order to get an interesting bilateral setup. After the online workshop, all participants are invited to come to Berlin in October to present their outcomes, network and personally meet. Following the session will be a public event to discuss the role of circular textiles and initiate a dialogue between policy makers and the industry. Everyone is welcome to join. Please keep in mind this open event coming later this year!
All innovators, designers, change-makers and circular businesses: register now for the workshop on May 27th. It will consist of six two-hour sessions. Registration deadline is April 27th. Participation is free, but spaces are limited. Don’t delay!
Registration is possible via this LINK.
Gijs Könings, assistent project manager for the Circular Economy.
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Tel: +49 171 555 4856